‘Little Englander’ sceptics slammed

Published: Thursday 20th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Energy Secretary Ed Davey has dismissed “little Englander” critics of the Government’s £720 million contribution to a UN fund to help poorer countries deal with climate change.

The Liberal Democrat minister said there was both a “moral” and “self interest” case for handing over the cash – which is coming from the existing aid budget.

The intervention came after Tories voiced doubts about the spending, pointing out that the deficit is still running at £100 billion a year and Britain’s own flood defences need shoring up.

Senior backbencher Sir Edward Leigh, a former chair of the Public Accounts Committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was not against funding “carefully costed” projects abroad.

But he added: “We have to look at the interest of the taxpayer and we have to look at the interest of our own people.

“First of all we have to spend the money here. I am very happy to help people who are in poverty in the third world, I’m happy to give money to humanitarian projects, I am happy to spend money properly on protecting a village in Bangladesh from being flooded …

“There are many hard working taxpaying conservatives who look at the fact that the overseas aid budget unlike every other budget has increased dramatically by I think 28% over the last year and they wonder whether this money has been well spent.”

But Mr Davey said the £8 billion UN Green Climate Fund would be carefully distributed, and action to deal with rising sea levels and protecting fresh water supplies in developing countries was justified.

“There is a moral case. There is also an enlightened self interest case,” he said.

“Because climate change is already affecting the economies and societies of other countries.

“That has a direct impact on us, both through trade and an indirect impact on our supply chains, it can affect our groceries and many other things.

“People listening I think recognise that we live in a global economy where when something happens in another part of the world it can affect our lives here.

“The idea that we should be isolationist, little Englanders is a complete nonsense.”

Mr Davey argued that the Government was spending a record £3.2 billion on UK flood defences this Parliament.

Britain is contributing around £100 million more to the fund than either Germany or France, with only the US and Japan giving more.

Published: Thursday 20th November 2014 by The News Editor

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